Using a patient’s own stem cells to rebuild feeble bladder-control muscles may provide lasting relief from the embarrassing and inconvenient symptoms of urinary incontinence, a new study reveals.
Activity-induced incontinence – a tiny tinkle when a person laughs or jogs, for example – is very common, affecting an estimated 10% to 35% of women globally. Also called stress incontinence, the loss of control is due to shrinking muscles in the bladder, sphincter, and urethra wall and becomes more likely as women age.
In 1995, US sufferers alone spent $12.4 billion on drugs, adult incontinence pads and corrective surgeries. But even surgical treatments, such as collagen or liquid plastic injections to bulk up the urethra, are not permanent and can make it difficult to urinate.
So Ferdinand Frauscher and his colleagues at University Hospital, Innsbruck, Austria wanted to see if stem cells could put the muscle power back, to re-establish natural control.